Source: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
January 10 2019
The largest jihadist group in Syria has solidified its influence in a cease-fire with rival rebel groups, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based watchdog group.
On Thursday, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) reached an agreement with the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF), according to an HTS news site.
In addition to a cease-fire, it included a prisoner swap and removing all trenches dug by the two sides.
The move puts virtually all of Idlib province under the rule of the "salvation government" of HTS, which adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law, reported Agence France Presse.
Under the agreement, HTS will also gain control of the strategic Sahl al-Ghab. With the deal, HTS now controls about 75 percent of Idlib, the observatory said. The NLF holds about 20 percent.
Last week, fighting broke out when militants from the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, one of the largest groups in the NLF, attacked HTS checkpoints, sparking fierce fighting in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama provinces.
HTS is an umbrella of hardline rebels led by fighters who were formerly known as Jabhat Al-Nusra, previously the Al-Qaida affiliate in Syria.
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